We might not be feeling the warmth, but we're starting to see the light! I noticed this yesterday as I was heading west on Highway 20 towards the Morgan arboretum. It was just after 5:30 and the sun was setting on the horizon causing a blinding streak of light down the middle of the road. As I lowered my visor in my car, I discovered it just wasn't quite long enough to keep the glare out of my eyes. I also realized that it had been a while since I'd seen a sunset as beautiful as this one. March was finally here, and with it comes longer days, and of course...Nutrition month!! Isn't it just the perfect time to start something great? It's the beginning of a new year! The trees will soon be budding, the grass will start to peak out from beneath the snow, the boots will be stored away for another year and t-shirts and jeans will dominate once more!
This year, the theme for Nutrition month is "Make it and Take it" meaning...let's start making our meals and snacks at home and bringing them with us rather than buying processed foods on the run. We live in a society where time is limited And precious, and what better way to spend that precious time than preparing a healthy dinner with your loved ones? Spending an hour or so sunday evening preparing a delicious, make ahead breakfast parfait with the kids, is not only quality time, but will get everyone off to a great start for the week.
For other easy, healthy practical tips for planning and preparing great portable food visit: www.nutritionmonth.ca
January...that time of year when the gyms are packed with people trying to start the year off right!
Losing weight and getting healthy are two of the three most popular New Years resolutions (I'll let you guess the other). I have to say, most people start off full throttle! They're running, cycling, rowing and crunching with great enthusiasm to work off the results of a month of indulgences.
They're also trying to eat better and they're reading up on how to get the most energy to help them get through their workouts. Which I find quite commendable!!However, one of the questions I hear most often is "Is it true I should drink chocolate milk after my workout"?
This is not a simple yes or no question. It is important to consider the intensity and frequency of your work-out before you start chasing it with chocolate milk.
If you are doing an intense activity (x-cry skiing, running, mountain biking, hard cycling) you are using your muscle's glycogen stores as your fuel source. Most muscles don't have vast stores of glycogen, meaning, if intense activity is prolonged, you can run out of fuel...this is often referred to as "hitting the wall". The enzymes responsible for replenishing glycogen stores are most active within a half hour of stopping the activity. This is where chocolate milk comes in. First, because it is a liquid, it contains little fibre or fat, and the naturally occurring sugar, lactose (half glucose) is absorbed very quickly into the depleted muscles, it is perfect for replenishing glycogen stores as well as fluids. Additionally it contains a sufficient amount of protein for muscle repair!
So if you're doing a 1 hour zumba class 3 times a week, or you're walking a half hour every night after dinner to keep healthy or shed a few pounds, you do not need a recovery beverage (chocolate milk or any other). Adding a recovery drink will just negate a large percentage of the calories you're working so hard to burn off!
However, if you're training hard, daily for a big event, muscle glycogen is crucial, and you should be training your muscles to increase the amount of glycogen they can store. That, of course, is a discussion for another time. For now, keep active, drink lots of water, and eat healthy...at your usual time.
Sources: Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 44: 682, 2012; Int. J. Sport Nutr. Exerc. Metab. 16: 78, 2006; Int. J. Sport Nutr. Exerc. Metab. 13: 382, 2003.
Merry Christmas !!!
It's December 22nd, and like many of you, I've been busy baking, decorating and celebrating the spirit of the season with friends and colleagues. I've also been overindulging in the eggnog a bit which sends me out to the cross country ski trails regardless of the conditions! All that to say, I apologize for the late post!
This month I'm keeping it short...really! I'd like to mention a few things happening in the city for those of you looking to spend a little time outside and other than that, I simply want to send my best wishes to all of you for a healthy, happy holiday season.
Christmas Fireworks happen almost every Saturday in December at the Bonsecours Basin (8:00)
One of the best places to see them is on the skating rink. So pull out your warmest mittens, grab your best friend or loved one, tie up your skates and get ready for a wonderfully whimsical winter night!
If you're more of a stumbler than a skater, you might want to take a walk down Ave du Mont-Royal and check out the comic book light boxes attached to the lamp posts! Each light box depicts the struggles and joys of winter in Montreal while adding a fun and colourful interest to the street!
If you're still rushing around picking up last minute items, look around at the statues. Someone has been putting red noses on Montreal's public art, making them all look a bit like Rudolf! Is it simply a mischievous citizen, or is it Nez Rouge reminding us that they are there to help us if we've had a drink or two and need to get home?
Ok...one really quick recipe: Super easy, healthy, light and very pretty! If you've been invited to a last minute pot luck, or receive unexpected visitors, this can be put together in a snap!
1 fresh pineapple
1 - 2 packs fresh blackberries (or strawberries)
- Chop pineapple into approximately 1 inch chunks
- Skewer onto party toothpicks
- Top each toothpick with a blackberry or strawberry
- arrange in a circle on your platter.
Merry Christmas! Have a healthy happy Holiday!
Well, it's that time again...November. Most of us find this to be the darkest, dreariest month of the year. I like to think of it as the calm before the storm. It's blustery and dark yes, but there's a certain serenity to November that comes with the darkness. It's a month to curl up by the fire with a good book, your dog at your feet and...an apple pie in the oven!
One of my favourite weekend activities in November is strolling through the mounds of leafy greens, bright red tomatoes,ruby red cranberries and deliciously crisp apples at the market. The aromas, colours and the chorus of the farmers selling their produce awaken the foodie in me and I find myself so overwhelmed with the dozens of recipes I want to try that I have to calm myself down and choose two or three for the week. This week I decided on Apple cranberry crisp for breakfast, a lemon, garlic, tomato and sesame sprout salad and...my Mile high Apple pie! I thought it would be perfect for the blustery, slushy days ahead.
A little nutrition info on apples...they come in right behind bananas as far as overall popularity. They're easy to pack, tasty, juicy and contain only about 55 calories each! Although they aren't very rich in vitamin C (5mg vs 10mg in a banana)¹ they are very rich in other phytonutrients, including antioxidants. If we consider these additional compounds, an apple has the equivalent antioxidant power of 1500 mg of vitamin C. For those of you who may be interested in the cancer fighting benefits of these nutrients, a very interesting graph on how antioxidants in different fruit suppress cancer cell growth in liver cells can be found here
So to help us all get through the dark, blustery month of November, I'm sharing my favourite apple pie recipe; Sandra's Mile High, Apple Pie! Not only is it rich in antioxidants and taste, but it is also low in sugar and contains protein and soluble fibre which helps lower bad cholesterol and control blood sugar.
I hope you love it as much as I do!
Sandra's Mile high Apple Pie
2/3 cup (150 ml) plus 2 Tbs (30 ml) cold, unsalted butter
2 cups (500 ml) all purpose, unbleached flour
1 tsp (5 ml) salt
4 -5 Tbs (60-75 ml) cold water
1/2 - 3/4 cup (125 - 200 ml) sugar (I use 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup unbleached flour
1 tsp + (5 ml+) cinnamon
1/2 tsp + (5ml+) nutmeg
pinch of salt
2 tsp (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
1 cup (250 ml) plain, Greek style yogurt
1 large egg beaten (room temperature)
10 large apples (Cortland) peeled, cored and thinly sliced.
2 Tbs (30 ml) butter
Preheat oven to 450〬
Cut shortening into flour and salt until particles are size of small peas (can quickly be done in a cuisinart). Sprinkle with water, 1 Tbs at a time tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry almost cleans the side of the bowl. If necessary, add 1-2 additional tsp of water.
Gather pastry into 2 balls, one slightly larger than the other, shape into flattened rounds on lightly floured cloth covered board. Using a flour covered rolling pin, roll small pastry ball 2 inches larger than the inverted pie plate. This will be the bottom pastry of the pie. Roll the larger ball as large as possible, without allowing the pastry to break into holes. Fold pastry bottom into quarters, ease into the pie plate and unfold allowing the edge to drape over the pie plate. Keep the pastry top aside.
Whisk together sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a large bowl. Stir in sour cream, eggs and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Add apples, tossing to coat. Pour into pastry laced pie plate, piling the apples high in the middle.
Fold Pastry topping into quarters and place on top of the apples, unfold and firmly press the top and bottom pastries together to form a rolling crust around the bottom of the pie. Brush lightly with milk if you like a glistening crust. Place an empty, rimmed baking sheet on the lowest oven rack to catch any drips, and bake the pie at 450〬 for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350〬 and bake until juices are bubbling and crust is golden brown, about 45 minutes.
Serve with a slice of Cheddar cheese, or a dollop of Greekstyle vanilla yogurt. Delicious!
Hello everyone! Thanks for checking in again. I had a little trouble with my website as you may have noticed...July's blog has shown up again following September. I'm far from skillful when it comes to knowing anything more about my computer than how to use it.
So I thought, considering it was so late in the month, I might post a few ideas for those of you who have decided to throw or attend a last minute halloween party!
There was a time when I threw many costume parties. I just love the mystery and whimsy that surrounds All Hallows Eve, or as most of us know it, Halloween. I am also very fortunate to have some very innovative and creative friends, who put together incredible costumes with things they found around the house. Here are a few I thought you would enjoy, and with a little imagination, they can be put together in just a few hours:
Frankenstein and his bride: Easy to do with face paint, a chain and an old jacket. The bride was a white tank, chiffon top and slip found at Value village. Add a little white powder, draw dark bags under your eyes and Voila!!
Count Dracula and Kermit the frog,
Dracula is always super fun and easy. However Kermit spent a long time putting this costume together. You might want to skip it unless you're lucky enough to still have that green pantsuit from the 70's!
Batman! My personal hero...
grey tights, blue undies,
grey undershirt, socks and a
few yards of Navy or black
satin fabric. The headgear is
a black cap with felt ears
attached and a black mask!
Elvira, Mistress of the dark and her crew;
A black cat, Frankenstein's Bride and a Can Can girl.
Easy as can be!
The Ghostly trio.
I'm quite certain I can skip the explanation on this one. However, they added a little twist by coming in as the Singing Ghostly trio. Casper, the smart little fellow, was nowhere to be found. ;o) Just make sure the points on top of your head are flopping downwards!
A mummy...Those of you who were not around in the 1970's, THIS is what a real mummy looks like
(but perhaps a little less relaxed)!
The Grim Reaper:
You'll need a long broom with a white mask attached to it, black string to form a hood over the broom and lots and lots of black fabric.
And finally, Mr. Spock from the original Star Trek series. Light blue shirt, shoulder bag, eyebrow makeup, and I think...those were his own ears! ;o)
So scurry down to the basement or up to the attic, and dig tempestuously for scraps of fabric, old brooms, sheets, worn jackets or anything that looks like it has seen better days. Use your imagination, be creative put on your scariest face and have a great time! I'll leave you with a video (click here)
that I think you might enjoy...but be careful, you might want to check under the bed before you turn off the light tonight.
Good night...and Happy Haunting!